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FSU's Dix named male athlete of year

Florida State sprinter Walter Dix never intended to make a fashion statement with the rubber band he wore on each wrist this past track and field season.

By BRIAN LANDMAN
Published July 25, 2007


PINEHURST, N.C. - Florida State sprinter Walter Dix never intended to make a fashion statement with the rubber band he wore on each wrist this past track and field season.

One was for his maternal grandmother, Lee Ada Freeman; another for a doctor in Hollywood, Fla., Jack Kahn. Both were important figures in his life. Both died this year.

"Whenever I walk to the (starting) blocks, I'd hold my wrists up to the sky," Dix said recently. "I wanted to let them know that they were with me and to watch me."

He usually put on some show. On the biggest of stages, Dix, a junior, won the 100- and 200-meter sprints and was part of the winning 4x100-meter relay team as the Seminoles repeated as the outdoor national champs. He was an easy pick for the track and field athlete of the year, then on Tuesday, he was named the ACC's male athlete of the year.

"That's exciting; that's very exciting," FSU coach Bob Braman said.

Since the ACC started handing out the Anthony J. McKevlin Award in 1954, the year the league formed, only five other track and field athletes have received it: Joel Shankle (Duke), 1954; Dave Sime (Duke), 1956; Tony Waldrop (North Carolina), 1974; Renaldo Nehemiah (Maryland), 1979; and Julie Shea (North Carolina State), 1980 and 1981. FSU has had just one athlete receive the honor, football and basketball star Charlie Ward (1993 and 1994).

"That puts Walter in special company," Braman said.

Dix received 31 votes from the ACC media, followed by Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson (23) and Duke lacrosse star Matt Danowski (12). Meanwhile, Duke guard Lindsey Harding was named the league's female athlete of the year and given the Mary Garber Award. She received 22 votes, edging out North Carolina soccer standout Heather O'Reilly (21).

ON DECK: The ACC gets another turn at coordinating the Bowl Championship Series immediately following this year's finale in New Orleans, and the league's two-year stint comes at a critical time. The television deal with Fox, which carries all BCS games except the Rose Bowl (ABC), is up after the 2009 season, as is the BCS system.

"It's become very obvious that we're not going to be to the point of having a full-blown playoff after the current BCS (deal)," commissioner John Swofford said. "I think what we're looking at is some form of a plus-one or the same format that we have at this point in time."

A plus-one model would pair the winners of two BCS games in a title showdown, creating a de facto four-team playoff. Swofford said that plan seems to be greeted by "much more open-mindedness" that it was before, both within the ACC and nationally.

ODDS AND ENDS: While Swofford said the league certainly wants Orlando to submit a proposal to host the ACC football championship game, along with Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Charlotte, he acknowledged that the planned renovations at the Citrus Bowl, unlikely to be done during the 2008-10 cycle up for bid now, makes that an unlikely site this time around. ... The ACC will continue to trumpet the idea of an earlier signing date for football, something the SEC and Pac-10 oppose but the Big Ten and Big 12 support. ... All ACC teams will have a black stripe on their uniforms, not only to memorialize the 32 people killed in the shooting at Virginia Tech in April but to show support for the entire Hokie community.